Stretching – Good or Bad?
The question of whether stretching is good or bad is not a simple one.
Recent opinion has changed towards the benefits and appropriateness of stretching, with research in the area continuing to evolve. As there is more than one type of stretching, it is crucial to know what kind is right for your workout so that it is beneficial for your body.
So in short, YES! Stretching is good, but only when used appropriately.
The Dynamic Duo
Static Stretching: placing a muscle in a lengthened position and holding it for a sustained period of time
What it is good for: tight, shortened muscles which are affecting your body in a negative way, for example impacting or changing your posture, placing increased pressure on joints, restricting joint movement.
When to use it: static stretches are great to do in the morning if you wake feeling stiff, as a break from your computer during the day, or at the end of the day after a long day of work or study. They are best used away from sport or vigorous exercise research has shown static stretches reduce blood flow to the muscle which is the opposite of what you want when warming up or when cooling down from activity to warm up or cool down use dynamic stretches (see below) or use self massage techniques such as a foam roller or spikey ball, as massage increases blood flow and can aid in recovery.
How to do it: making changes to muscle length takes time, stretches must be done consistently (every day!)and long holds are required (minimum 1 minute holds, the longer the better!)
These are good for people who sit all day, have a lordotic posture or are runners and cyclists
2) Pec Stretch
Pecs are often tight in people who spend a lot time using computers, tablets and smartphones
Dynamic Stretching: moving a muscle through its full range range of motion to its end range through active motion of a joint or body part.
What it is good for: improving range of motion and blood flow to muscles, preparing the body for physical exertion, improving joint range of motion.
When to use: as mentioned above, dynamic stretching is best to use as a warm up for sport or physical activity as it will increase the blood flow as well as lengthening the muscle. They can also be also useful when muscle tightness is associated with joint stiffness see below for the example of book opening stretch which combines a pectoral muscle stretch with active movement of the thoracic spine.
How to do it: controlled, gentle and repetitive movement towards the maximum range of motion no sudden, bouncing, or uncontrolled movement.
1) Quad Stretch
2) Book Openings